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Prescription painkiller use can lead to heroin addiction

When Maryland residents think of someone charged with a drug offense, they might call to mind someone who is on the fringes of society -- a stereotypical "career criminal."

But this is not always the case. Many people who are facing criminal charges for drug offenses may be in that situation not because they are a "criminal" but because of drug addiction, which can start out quite innocently when people start using prescription drugs.

Recently, it has been becoming more and more clear that prescription drugs, which are often prescribed for people who have to live with chronic pain, can result in long-term drug addiction. Furthermore, opiate-based prescription drugs as OxyContin may, in fact, play a role for many people in causing addiction to more powerful opiates such as heroin.

Over the past ten years, addiction to prescription painkillers has increased tremendously, and heroin addiction is also on the rise nationwide. But why? Interestingly, a large number of heroin addictions can be traced to an initial dependency on prescription pain medications.

The increase in the use of heroin resulting from prescription drug abuse has become evident through a skyrocketing number of police reports mentioning heroin abuse and previous prescription drug dependency.

What started off as a necessity in order to control pain can sometimes become problematic. When the prescription drugs are no longer enough or are no longer available, some desperate people are driven to try other methods to control their pain, even if it means crossing the line to heroin. There can be many reasons for this, but among them is that heroin can be less expensive than some prescription painkillers.

If you have been using prescription painkillers and have now been accused of a drug offense, now is the time to get the help you may need for your addiction. Taking part in an addiction recovery program can also be a positive step you can take now that could assist your criminal defense.

Source: Pioneer Press, "In metro, painkiller abuse may be gateway to heroin," Sarah Horner, Nov. 5, 2011

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